James Anderson

Politician, Deceased Person

1662 – 1728


Who was James Anderson?

James Anderson, Scottish antiquary and historian, was born at Edinburgh.

He was educated for the law, and became a writer to the signet in 1691. His profession gave him the opportunity of gratifying his taste for the study of ancient documents; and just before the Act of Union 1707 the Parliament of Scotland commissioned him to prepare for publication what remained of the public records of the Kingdom of Scotland, and in their last session voted a sum of £1940 pound Scots to defray his expenses.

At this work he laboured for several years with great judgment and perseverance; but it was not completed at his death in 1728. The book was published posthumously in 1739, edited by Thomas Ruddiman, under the title Selectus Diplomatum et Numismatum Scotiae Thesaurus. The preparation of this great national work involved the author in considerable pecuniary loss; and soon after his death, the numerous plates, engraved by John Sturt, were sold for £530. These plates are now lost, and the book has become exceedingly scarce.

Anderson was appointed in 1715 postmaster-general for Scotland, as some compensation for his labours; but in the political struggles of 1717 he was deprived of this office, and never again obtained any reward for his services.

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Aug 5, 1662
  • Scotland
Lived in
  • Edinburgh
Apr 3, 1728

on July 23, 2013


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